April 1, 2011

The Crunch and The Swoon

This set is all about two great tastes that go great together: the crunch and the swoon. The Trail Of Dead are certainly known for their crunch, with swooning prog arrangements and the crunch of shattered guitars. Their new album, as represented by this track, doesn't short change. Mogwai, of course, are the undeniable masters of crunching layers of guitar and swooning dynamics, as illustrated by this track off their latest. And krautrock O.G.s Faust (who seem to have splintered into at least two Fausts with different members that are still going strong and releasing albums 40 years later) has gotten crunchier over time as this abstract jam shows.

From there we swerve into the realm where crunch and swoon were most effectively cross-bred: that of SHOEGAZE. For those of you who somehow were and remained so out of touch that you haven't heard the term before, shoegaze refers to rock and pop bands with less stage presence than effects pedals, which they would stare at while strumming innocuous looking chords that sweetly made our ears bleed and minds spin (mostly in the UK, circa late 80s/early 90s). Since I'll be veering between the vintage originators (see parentheses above) and postmodern shoegaze you lucky listeners will have the opportunity to reach for your volume controls at every song start, as the mastering of the old stuff vs. new stuff varies wildly. Have fun with that - wish I could watch (snark). Better yet - just keep the volume at maximum, eh?

Swervedriver put the crunch into a hybrid of 70s American car rock and keening British guitar blast back in the heyday of shoegaze; LA glamsters Gliss crackle with barely restrained angst in their updated take on the genre; long-defunct Curve brought a techno feel to their version of the gaze, all dark tumultuous programmed rhythms and monster guitars; the modern SF gals in No Joy aren't shy with the volume on their take on swirling new gaze; Pale Saints brought an angularity into the staid open chord fuzz of most of the old school; My Bloody Valentine is an obvious choice here, but at least I've supplied you with a somewhat obscure track from the pre-Loveless days; Airiel act like the genre never went away and manage to out-bombast the founders; the relatively obscure Lilys bring the bliss to bliss pop (another overused term along with shoegaze); and Swirlies songs sounded quite convincingly like MBV outtakes circa Feed Me With Your Kiss, but who could bemoan them for that?

Bailterspace weren't strictly shoegaze - they dabbled in everything from Wire-esque minimalism to Swell Maps style deconstructivism to the absurdity of The Fall's Mark E. Smith - but this track emphasizes a foray into both the swoony and the crunchy that we've been discussing. Their progenitors The Gordons hinted at this approach but were also heavily influenced by Sonic Youth-y dissonance and mayhem. Speaking of Sonic Youth, I recently finished the installment of the 33-1/3 series of books discussing the creation of seminal albums which concerned Daydream Nation, so I had to include one of the best songs from that classic (but so many to choose from!) here.

And to wrap up this set, a diptych tribute to the phenomenal, life-changing show I just witnessed on a recent trip to the terra firma: doom mantra duo Om (with Emil Amos from Grails on drums!), and the return, after an eight-year hiatus, of the founding fathers of Montreal instrumental post rock, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Epic, it was. I hope this set is too.

For you traditionalists who don't mind streaming from this site, the following tracks should appear in the player below:

The Spacerock Continuum Theme - bRambles
The Fairlight Pendant - ...And You'll Know Us By The Trail Of Dead- Tao Of The Dead
Batcat- Mogwai - Special Moves
Tell The Bitch To Go Home - Faust - Something Dirty
Sci-Flyer - Swervedriver - Raise
Fade Away - Gliss - Love The Virgins
Wish You Dead - Curve - Doppleganger
Ghost Blonde - No Joy - Ghost Blonde
Ordeal - Pale Saints - In Ribbons
Honey Power - My Bloody Valentine- Tremolo
You Kids Should Know Better - Airiel - The Battle Of Sealand
Snowblinder - Lilys - In The Presence Of Nothing
Jeremy Parker - Swirlies - Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
Tag - Bailter Space - Capsul
Right On Time - The Gordons - s/t
Cross The Breeze - Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
Thebes - Om - God Is Good
Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls - Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Yanqui U.X.O.

But don't forget, you now have the option of spacerock to go:

1. Click on the Divshare logo instead of pushing the play button.

2. Click "download" when redirected to the Divshare site.

3. Once downloaded drag it to yer iTunes and sync it with yer pod - simple!